Sebastian Siegel is a British-American director, writer, producer, actor and author. His recent movie “Grace and Grit” premiered at the IMAX Chinese Theatre and now streams on Amazon, Apple, Showtime, and Hulu with broad audience favor. Sebastian plays predominately British and character roles in hits including: Magnum P.I., Hawaii Five-0, Quantico, Lost, The Haves and Have Nots, and The Family That Preys. Sebastian has written, directed, and produced a range of innovative commercials, festival trailers, and documentary films.
His first book, “The Consciousness Revolution” was published for the German market (coming next year in English), and his work as a storyteller in film, therapy and psychology has been acclaimed by a range of global thought leaders. John Mackey (the founder of Whole Foods) says of Sebastian’s last film, “Like the book it’s adapted from, this film is brilliant. Grace and Grit will shake you, and maybe even awaken you in some way. This movie is a must-see, especially for anyone interested in love or consciousness.”
You are British, born in Oxford, England. How did you end up in California?
My father is an author, and was a professor of World Religions specializing in India. We moved from Oxford to Hawaii for his work. My mother, who’s also British, and stepfather lived in Texas, and I went to school in Connecticut. I came to LA from Hawaii for a TV pilot.
You work in storytelling – in film, psychology, and meditation. Your work has been lauded in each one of these fields by luminaries, from Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and don Miguel Ruiz, to John Mackey, James Hollis, and Alex Grey. How did you get into the film business?
As a kid I loved acting. When I came to California it took time to cultivate a career as an actor. I started writing, producing, and directing during periods between work. That took me from documentaries and commercials, to feature films.
You’ve also appeared on over 100 magazine covers and been photographed for major campaigns by David La Chapelle, Steven Meisel, and for billboards on Santa Monica Blvd and in Times Square. How did you get into the health and wellness space?
When I came to LA I think I was in the right place at just the right moment. And I was focused, spending most weekends at Gold’s Gym. My first cover was for Men’s Fitness. It parlayed from there into campaigns, endorsements, and profit sharing in the building of health and wellness companies.
Your Lucid Dreaming Adventure is unreal. The Hollywood Reporter called it a “go-to for meditation”. How do you achieve higher consciousness?
Exit your self.
What are some anti-aging practices that you do?
High-intensity exercise, ice bath, sauna, eating predominately vegetables… though most of all, curiosity about others, engagement in life, and celebrating this moment with total gratitude.
What are some of your favorite biohacking devices right now?
I built an outdoor rooftop retreat space in Santa Monica with infrared sauna, Red Light Therapy, aromatherapy and a cold rinse next to it. It’s a powerful, rejuvenating, anti-aging, and exhilarating experience.
What are some of the meditation/mindfulness techniques that you practice?
Witness arising, Zen, tonglen, breath-focus, and a range of meditative practices. I guide one or two lucid dreaming experiences every month as part of my social structure. These evenings attract a wonderful group of fascinating individuals. Reading – books in hardcopy for me – is also paramount. Conscious personal evolution, and so meditation, is an interplay between surrender and focus. It implies juxtaposing discipline with playfulness. Mindfulness suggests that the in-breath and the out-breath compliment each other; it’s letting go to hold on.
Why is gratitude so important?
It’s the lens by which God – through you – enjoys the awareness of beauty.
How do you take a thought and manifest it into your dreams?
Consistency, commitment, focus – and making that goal larger and more significant than your individual self. The sacrifice required to manifest dreams is recognized in day-to-day practices. If the goal is larger than you, it become clear what activities are paramount and which ones are trivial.
What are your views on psychedelics?
The container is as important as the mechanism. What we bring to an experience shapes the journey. This applies to relationships and work as well. We set a potential for growth or success – or failure – ahead of the course whether we are aware of it or not, whether it is conscious or subconscious. We can only have as “good” an experience – or relationship for that matter – as we are prepared to have. Priming your willingness to be open and receptive sets the stage for dynamism. Psychedelics, like passion, may act as a transcendent catalyst with the right mindset… to the same degree that they may stunt growth if used as a distraction. They may be used to hide egocentric symptoms through escapism, or uncover aspects of shadow with a deep dive. Escaping, at first glance, seems fun – the state-experience most people are drawn to. A deep dive though requires courage – the courage to really look at oneself. This means uncovering and surrendering – to permit an internal crucifixion of some paradigm or ego-security in the name of resurrection and rebirth. This discomfort and excitement is the m.o. for bearing new eyes, and so therefore a new world.
The healthy drive, in any case, is a move towards depth; towards greater understanding and awareness of self.
Who inspires you?
My father – he’s rugged, curious, is a prolific writer and has manifest an amazing life with seeming ease. Ken Wilber’s mind is awe-inspiring – as Deepak says about him, “read everything he writes, it will change your life”. All my friends inspire me in different ways. I spent the weekend with my friend Isa Jonay, for example. We did a brutal workout, played chess, explored movies we’re making together, did a freezing ice bath and ate healthy foods. In other words, inspiration is a current that engages us when we are receptive to, and excited about, becoming more. I enjoy learning, and bringing extraordinary individuals into my life, and finding ways to contribute to their lives. So all my relationships inspire me – some brilliant, some graceful, some hilarious, some kind. It’s important to locate admirable qualities within all of the individuals we choose to share time with.
Your recent film is a profoundly emotional movie. Marianne Williamson wrote, “Grace and Grit is an epic love story. Sebastian’s adaptation of this powerful book stays true to the source… this movie is a testament to the transformative powers of love.” And Alex Grey says “Grace and Grit is a movie that takes you on a spiritual journey into the depths of love and then beyond. Sebastian Siegel is a dexterous and original director, his movie is transcendent storytelling at its best.” What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently directing a thriller. From that we go into production on an inspiring true story titled “180”, which I’ll also produce. It’s about indulgence and resilience – a mix between “Blow” and “The Dirt”. I own several IP which are in various stages of development from outline and story to script and funding. I’m being pulled to direct a very large action feature, which is exciting for me because I started in action-style commercials shooting from helicopters, zodiacs, underwater, on boats off-shore, and in high-end racing car sequences over lush cliffs. My focus in features has been performance driven thus far, so the return to big-production action will be fun.
What does beauty mean to you?
Plato terms beauty as the object of love. Meaning, it is a perspective to be held at one juncture, and it changes. All things can be beautiful to a creative and open mind. Even the most painful things imaginable – separation, death, absence, destruction – ultimately give way to new beginnings, to resurrection. The darkness of winter is beautiful in itself, and it is also the doorway to spring. So to say what beauty “means”… it means having the wherewithal that this, here and now, is a miracle. If our eyes are open wide enough, beauty is always there.
How would you describe success?
Success is appreciating this moment, loving our relationships, and the feeling of being excited by each day.
What would you tell yourself 20 years ago?
Keep breathing deeply.
Who are some of your influencer friends that we should be following?
Ken Wilber, don Miguel Ruiz, Alex Grey, James Hollis, Anthony Robbins, Lee Daniels, Alexa Thurman, Krishna Das, and I don’t know him yet but Jordan Peterson is wonderful.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Kill all distractions. You know what they are. Heed your intuition, not your impulsivity. Stay the course.
Where are some of your favorite places to travel to?
Hawaii. And a bicycle ride with a book down the coast in California can be pretty wondrous.
What are some of the brands or products you like most?
Garden of Life Raw vegan protein powders and supplements, SomaVedic for EMF blocking and water structuring, Botanic Tonics Feel Free Kava, Anima Mundi herbals, and Epicuren is my go-to for skincare.
What are your favorite restaurants?
In recent months I’ve been enjoying trying new places and new selections at places I frequent – from The Peninsula, Eveleigh, Craig’s, Gracias Madre and The Sunset Tower, to the BH Hotel, Lavo, Zinque, Cafe Gratitude, and Charcoal. Though sometimes I just crave a juice a Kreation or a tea with dessert at Erewhon.
Where can we find you?
“Sebastian Siegel has appeared on over 100 magazine covers from Men’s Fitness to Iron Man and has either represented or owned portions of companies that have sold for values from 12M to 280M.” – Business Rockstars Radio
“Sebastian’s art is shown in the way he brings people together.”– don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements
“Siegel makes the language go all the way to a place it cannot go, and winds up pointing to a kind of mystery, deep within, far without. I found myself wondering: where did these words come from – the writer, the seducer of spirit?” – George Tanabe, Former Chairman, Dept. of Religions, University Hawai’i at Manoa – specialty in Buddhism